There it was on the list of abbreviations in the book. “Cordr” meant “cordwainer.” It was an occupation of some sort, but what exactly? I thought that maybe it could be broken down by the syllables and take the sense of the root words. The “cord” part seemed obvious, but what was a “wainer”? Perhaps it was an occupation connected with the place he enlisted from – Salem, a seaport. Sailors were from seaports, and sailors worked with ropes and cordage. Maybe a cordwainer made ropes?
ET may have left home, but Salem was a recent residence and it had not been “home” for all that long. Danvers was his most recent abode as mentioned before, according to the 1860 federal census, but it is difficult to know how long he had lived there, though I do have a clue. I just recently discovered that he was an orphan, and would have been since his mother died in 1853 when he was just thirteen. At the time of the 1850 census he was living in Roxbury, Massachusetts, with his mother and her second husband Calvin Gilson. His step-father re-married in 1858, so I am guessing that he was apprenticed to the cordwainer in Danvers sometime soon after that. His mother had married Mr Gilson in 1848, three years after his father had passed away (I’m going to save the topic of his father for another day).
So arriving in Boston, he was not only returning to the place of his birth, but he was also nearby to Roxbury, the place of his formative years. Though I am sure, those days to him belonged to the past; he had the excitement of the future before him.
Most of the 8th regiment had already reported, all of its companies so far were from Essex County. The SLI marched to the State House and there received overcoats and knapsacks. (ET and the rest of the recruits did not have uniforms. The only thing “uniform” about them would be these items).
While here in Boston the company performed various drills for the curious public. As a result, the newspapers from this time forward would celebrate them as “The Salem Zouaves.”
They took their noon meal with the rest of the regiment and later received their standard from the Governor.
At five o’clock in the afternoon, after a light supper they “took the cars” to Washington DC with Brigadier General B F Butler in command. It was April 18, 1861.
According to the dictionary, a cordwainer was a worker in leather, in particular, the types of leather made in Cordoba Spain. In short, a shoemaker (or bootmaker).
(Just as a sidebar, along the way I learned another important distinction. A cobbler was not a shoemaker, but rather one who repaired shoes. The cordwainer made the brand new ones.)
Knowing he was a shoemaker was helpful in identifying him in the 1860 census. I found him in Danvers, a town that is just over from Salem, (in fact it used to be called Salem Village). He was a young man of 20, and living with Lewis Cann, a shoemaker and his family. So he may have been serving an apprenticeship to him.
Next – I will look into the other clue, the company into which he enlisted earlier in 1861.